Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that affects the lining of the throat and nose. Although it spreads easily, diphtheria can be prevented by vaccination. If left untreated, diphtheria can cause severe damage to the kidneys, nervous system and heart. Diphtheria accounts for about 10 percent of deaths, according to the Mayo Clinic
When the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria enters the human body, a person develops an acute bacterial disease that is highly contagious and deadly called diphtheria or diphtheria. Most children and the elderly who become infected with the disease die. The disease is transmitted by direct physical contact or the entry of airborne particles into the respiratory tract, which includes the cause of diphtheria.
After the bacteria enters the human body, the upper respiratory tract becomes affected and affects the throat, skin, heart and central nervous system.
The incubation period of this disease is 2 to 5 days.
Types of diseases:
Throat diphtheria: It first covers the protruding sides of the throat and then spreads to other parts of the throat so that it may cover the roof of the mouth from the front and the esophagus and larynx from the back, and sometimes completely cover the small tongue in severe cases. And severe diphtheria angina, swollen lymph nodes and anterior neck tissue are clearly swollen. In general, the toxic effects and complications in pharyngeal diphtheria are much more severe and more common than other types of diphtheria.
Laryngeal diphtheria: In this type of diphtheria, the airways are blocked and this type of disease develops gradually and progresses. Insufficient air enters the patient’s lungs and the patient becomes cyanotic. If the airway is not opened using a tracheostomy, the patient will lose consciousness after much effort and will die of suffocation.
Tonsil diphtheria: At the beginning of the disease, it is present only on one of the tonsils and in a small spot that is yellowish white.
Of course, another type of diphtheria is skin type that occurs due to poor hygiene. One of the rare types of this disease is ocular diphtheria.
Common symptoms of the disease:
Sore throat and hoarseness
Enlargement of lymph nodes around the neck
Thick gray membrane on the throat and tonsils
Difficulty breathing and rapid breathing
A hallmark of the disease, which distinguishes it from a viral disease or sore throat, is the formation of a thick gray membrane in the nose, throat, or airways caused by a toxin produced by bacteria.
Today, diphtheria can be prevented by vaccination in addition to treatability. The diphtheria vaccine is often used in combination with the tetanus and pertussis vaccines and is known as the DPT vaccine. Dtap type is the last type of this vaccine. It is recommended to administer this vaccine at the beginning of infancy. The injection steps of this vaccine include 5 injection steps in the arm and thigh. Which is injected at the age of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years.
Diphtheria vaccine is an effective method of prevention. But it has a number of side effects, such as: a mild fever, dizziness, pain at the injection site.
DPT vaccine rarely causes serious side effects such as allergic reactions, rash or shock in children
Children with advanced brain disorders are not a good choice for the DPT vaccine.
After diagnosing diphtheria in an infected child or adult, a specific antidote is given. This antidote neutralizes toxins in the bloodstream. The antitoxin may be administered intravenously or intramuscularly, but a skin allergy test must be performed first to ensure that the person is not allergic to the antitoxin.
Penicillin or erythromycin are some of the antibiotics used to treat diphtheria. Antibiotics reduce the time the disease is contagious to remove some of the thick gray membrane in the throat to prevent respiratory obstruction. Other complications of diphtheria should also be treated. Like inflammation of the heart muscle. In advanced cases of the disease, the person needs respiratory support until complete recovery.
Respiratory problems: Due to the toxin produced by the bacteria, tissue damage occurs in the area of infection, nose and throat, which creates a dirty gray membrane on the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. This membrane causes respiratory obstruction and has dangerous consequences.
Heart damage: Bacterial toxins enter the bloodstream and damage other tissues in the body, including the heart muscle. Inflammation of the heart muscle is one of the injuries. Heart damage is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chest pain, joint pain and an abnormal increase in heart rate. Severe cases of heart damage lead to heart failure and sudden death.
Kidney damage: With the entry of diphtheria toxin into the kidneys, the ability to purify the blood in the kidneys decreases.
Nerve damage: Diphtheria toxin damages nerves, especially the throat nerves, and makes swallowing difficult. The nerves in the arms and legs may become inflamed. And lead to weakness.
In severe cases, the nerves of the respiratory muscles are damaged and breathing becomes difficult.